I. Russia’s parliamentary election brings out a resounding land-slide victory for the ruling “United Russia” Party of Vladimir Putin.
In terms of seats in Parliament, United Russia leapt to 343 from 238, a gain of 105 seats and an absolute majority. The other parties in Parliament, which rarely challenge Mr. Putin, all shrank. The Communist Party lost 50 seats, to 42 from 92; the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party was down 17 seats, to 39 from 56; and A Just Russia had 41 seats disappear, to 23 from 64.
As per wikipedia, here’s the old parliament. And the New Parliament.
As you can see… the Blue “Putin Party” has increased in size total, and the other “merely supporting Putin” Parties have dropped in size total.
After Mr Putin’s first term in office, which ended in 2004, the Duma ceased to be a democratic forum; it merely rubber-stamped the Kremlin’s edicts. But its standing—and that of United Russia—was sustained to an extent by high oil prices and a growing economy. At least the Duma could not be ignored, as it provided a rare means of access to the Kremlin, which distributed the oil rent. With the sharp fall in oil revenues, the economy in recession and real incomes dropping, this is no longer the case. Social scientists note that the urban middle class—the most economically active part of the country—has no real representation; United Russia is just a vehicle for the Kremlin to exert power. By shutting out the opposition and marginalising even the tame Duma, the Kremlin is pushing Russian politics into unchartered and potentially dangerous territory. Mr Putin’s latest victory turns the Duma into more of a sham. As a result, he risks becoming detached. In the view of Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst and former adviser to Mr Putin, Russia’s leaders are like pilots flying in heavy turbulence with the cockpit dials all painted over.
Uncharted? I’m thinking of a series of 1952 Pogos from cartoonist Walt Kelly, the heavy-handed political satire bringing in a Soviet Bear… talking up the Soviet election system of the leaders winning with 99.7 percent (or some such figure) of the vote.
II. It’s interesting to see how the deposed left-wing leader in Brazil — who, either was the victim of a “soft coup” sanctioned by the United States or was simply offed off of popular uprising against corruption– left office with a historically low approval rating… to be replaced by an equally unpopular and loathsome right-wing leader.
Imagine, for a moment, Trump or Clinton win. And in two years, by some convoluted process that’s technically legal and by-passes norms of electoral processes we arrive at an unpopular Clinton or Trump replacing an unpopular Trump or Clinton.
Maybe an impeached Vice President Pence or Kaine and the naming of Trump or Clinton as Speaker of the House (who, it should be noted, does not have to be a member of the House).
III. Funny ad in the New York Times. Turkey pulled out an ad extolling its democracy, and positing it as partners in stuff and things with the USA. Sure… sure… and it’s surely complicated, but… NEXT!